Di George Syndrome - Cognitive and Language Problems - Speech and Language

Speech and Language

Current research demonstrates there is a unique profile of speech and language impairments associated with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Children often perform lower on speech and language evaluations in comparison to their nonverbal IQ scores. Common problems include hypernasality, language delays, and speech sound errors.

Hypernasality occurs when air escapes through the nose during the production of oral speech sounds resulting in reduced intelligibility. This is a common characteristic in the speech and language profile because 69% of children have palatal abnormalities. If the structure of the soft palate velum is such that it does not stop the flow of air from going up to the nasal cavity, it will cause hypernasal speech. This phenomenon is referred as velopharyngeal inadequacy VPI. Hearing loss can also contribute to increased hypernasality because children with hearing impairments can have difficulty self monitoring their oral speech output. The treatment options available for VPI include prosthesis and surgery.

Difficulties acquiring vocabulary and formulating spoken language (expressive language deficits) at the onset of language development are also part of the speech and language profile associated with the 22q11.2 deletion. Vocabulary acquisition is often severely delayed for preschool age children. In some recent studies, children had a severely limited vocabulary or were still nonverbal at 2–3 years of age. School age children do make progress with expressive language as they mature, but many continue to have delays and demonstrate difficulty when presented with language tasks such as verbally recalling narratives and producing longer and more complex sentences. Receptive language, which is the ability to comprehend, retain, or process spoken language, can also be impaired although not usually with the same severity as expressive language impairments.

Articulation errors are commonly present in children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. These errors include a limited phonemic (speech sound) inventory and the use of compensatory articulation strategies resulting in reduced intelligibility. The phonemic inventory typically produced consists of sounds made in the front or back of the vocal tract such as: /p/, /w/, /j/, /m/, /n/, and glottal stops. Mid vocal tract sounds are completely absent. Compensatory articulation errors made by this population of children include: glottal stops, nasal substitutions, pharyngeal fricatives, linguapalatal sibilants, reduced pressure on consonant sounds, or a combination of these symptoms. Of these errors, glottal stops have the highest frequency of occurrence. It is reasoned that a limited phonemic inventory and the use of compensatory articulation strategies is present due to the structural abnormalities of the palate. The speech impairments exhibited by this population are more severe during the younger ages and show a trend of gradual improvement as the child matures.

Read more about this topic:  Di George Syndrome, Cognitive and Language Problems

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